Management practices recommended for specialty cider apples

December 28, 2016

MOUNT VERNON, WA - The hard cider industry is experiencing remarkable growth; statistics show that US hard cider production increased 22-fold from 2007-2015. To meet consumer demand for specialty cider apples, producers in the US are investigating innovative orchard practices that can help specialty apple growers minimize production costs. A study from researchers at The Department of Horticulture at Washington State University contains cider apple harvesting and storage recommendations that can inform orchard management decisions.

Travis Alexander, Jaqueline King, Edward Scheenstra, and Carol Miles reported on their 2-year study in the October 2016 issue of HortTechnology. The scientists evaluated mechanically and hand-harvested 'Brown Snout' specialty cider apples that were stored for 0, 2, and 4 weeks. An over-the-row small fruit harvester (model OR0012; Littau Harvester, Lynden, WA), locally used for harvesting blueberries and processing raspberries, was used in the experiment. Fruit was harvested when fully ripe, and yield was measured as weight (pounds) of fruit harvested. Immediately after harvesting, boxes of apples were placed in ambient storage conditions.

The over-the-row shake-and-catch small fruit harvester achieved 81% of the yield of hand harvest when all mechanically picked fruit were taken into account; 16% of fruit were left on the trees. "Of this 81%, 7% of the fruit fell to the ground during mechanical harvest, which could be easily prevented by adding netting to the front and back of the machine," the authors noted. The percentage of apples that were bruised and cut were greater (on average) for machine harvest than for hand harvest.

Results showed that fruit yield loss to rot was 31-fold greater for machine harvest than for hand harvest by 2 weeks storage and increased for both methods over time; percent rot doubled from 2 to 4 weeks storage for machine harvest, and tripled from 2 to 4 weeks storage for hand harvest.

The experiments showed that juice quality characteristics did not differ due to harvest method, but did differ due to year and storage time. Soluble solids concentration and specific gravity did not change due to storage in year one, but, in year two, both measures were greater at 2 and 4 weeks storage duration than at harvest.

The authors said that for 'Brown Snout' mechanically harvested at full ripeness, storing of the fruit postharvest "is not a recommended practice given the potential yield losses and that theoretically the fruit should obtain maximum sweetness if fully ripe. There is research to be completed on establishing maturity indices specific to cider apples and that growers are confident in utilizing." They added that harvest efficiency could be improved with some engineering modifications to over-the-row small fruit mechanical harvester and training modifications for the trees.
-end-
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/26/5/614.abstract

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org

American Society for Horticultural Science

Related Apples Articles from Brightsurf:

Silk road contains genomic resources for improving apples
The fabled Silk Road is responsible for one of our favorite and most valuable fruits: the domesticated apple.

Detecting soil-surface ozone early can help prevent damage to grapes and apples
Farmers and fruit growers report that climate change is leading to increased ozone concentrations on the soil surface in their fields and orchards, which can cause irreversible plant damage, reduce crop yields and threaten the food supply.

Toddlers who use touchscreens show attention differences
New research from the TABLET project recruited 12-month-old infants who had different levels of touchscreen usage.

Decline of bees, other pollinators threatens US crop yields
Crop yields for apples, cherries and blueberries across the United States are being reduced by a lack of pollinators, according to Rutgers-led research, the most comprehensive study of its kind to date.

Newly discovered pathogen in NY apples causes bitter rot disease
In a study of New York state apple orchards, Cornell University plant pathologists have identified a new fungal pathogen that causes bitter rot disease in apples.

More berries, apples and tea may have protective benefits against Alzheimer's
Older adults with low intake of foods and drinks containing flavonoids, such as berries, apples, and tea, were more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and related dementias over 20 years, compared with people who consumed more of those items, according to a new study.

Sensory information underpins abstract knowledge
What we learn through our senses drives how knowledge is sorted in our brains, according to research recently published in JNeurosci.

Minimizing post-harvest food losses
Research team from Graz, Austria, develops biological methods to improve the shelf life of fruit and vegetables.

Hand- versus machine-harvested juice and cider apples: A comparison of phenolic profiles
Study conducted to determine if there is a measurable impact of harvest method on the phenolic profile of 'Brown Snout' juice and cider to better inform equipment adoption.

Bottles made of lignocellulose, perfumes of apples
Many companies are working on materials that would be as light and resistant as plastic but at the same time fully biodegradable.

Read More: Apples News and Apples Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.